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Guyngreen's NCAA 2011 Simulation: Intro and Game 1 (Hijacked Into NCAA Open Thread)

Break out your virtual grills, your cornhole boards, and favorite BEvERage... because the simulations have begun.
(My apologies in advance for no photos yet... I will add a couple later from the PS3 highlights)

I loaded the game into my PS3, immediately selecting Louisville as my favorite team, and began a new Dynasty.  Though I normally like to change the simulated coaching strategy and re-order the depth chart, I left almost everything the same.  The coach's name was immediately changed to Charlie Strong, and if possible, I red-shirted the last few players on the rosters who would not see the field due to their ratings.

Coach Strong's three goals for the year are 1) Beat UK, 2) Top 3 Big East finish, 3) Beat WVU.
The depth chart for the Cards is as follows:

  Depth Chart
QB A. Froman W. Stein J. Burke    
HB V. Anderson D. Ashley B. Powell    
FB Z. Meagher L. Carr      
WR D. Beaumont J. Chichester M. Harris T. Pascley D. Brown
TE C. Graham P. Nochta K. Dominguez    
LT B. Stingily R. Kessling      
LG H. Stout J. Byrom      
C M. Benavides (LS) A. Kupper      
RG M. Wetterer K. Joyer      
LE G. Tomczyk H. Hernandez J. Adams    
RE G. Scruggs R. Gnat      
DT M. Tatum W. Savoy #12 DT?    
LOLB B. Heath C. Peake      
MLB A. Canady M. Privott T. Teague    
ROLB M. Evans D. Rogers G. Durant    
CB J. Patrick D. Copeland ? B. Burns A. Connor J. Paschel
FS #71 FS ? #68 FS? #66 FS?    
SS A. Smith A. Williams      
K C. Philpott #17 K      
P R. Payne        
PR/KR J. Caldwell J. Patrick      

The initial ratings of Louisville on this game are pretty fair, given the real results and lack of depth returning to the Cards:  Louisville is a 3-star program, which runs a Spread offense and 4-3 defense.
Overall   Offense   Defense
78 (C+)   83 (B-)     77 (C+)

Unlike most perceptions of the Big East Conference, this game is fair with our strength of schedule, giving us an overall B- rating, with games against Oregon State (#19), Cincinnati (#24), and Pittsburgh (#16).  I do think it's lame that the schedule starts on August 29th and not September 4th for the UK game.  Maybe they thought we were supposed to play on a Sunday?  I'm also unsatisfied with our "highest" rated eight players.  When Coach Strong said we're going to play hard on special teams, he wasn't joking.

Player # Rating
C. Philpott 12 90
V. Anderson 20 88
D. Ashley 8 84
B. Powell 15 83
No longer here 17 83
R. Payne 35 82
J. Chichester 11 82
D. Beaumont 27

82

Some last few tidbits before I start talking about the games... the stadium expansion is in (minus the hedges), and nothing has changed since CARD_G6's post last week.  I do notice we have the choice of using the gawd-awful black "The Ville" uniforms.  I dig the black uniforms, but how did this one slip in there?  I also like the fact that you can mix and match the pants and jerseys like UofL has done in the past few years.

Game 1 - UK (0-0) Overall B-, Offense: B, Defense: B-, Offense style: Pro Style

The pre-game entrance shows the Cardinal Band taking the field, starting to spell out the C - A... and breaks to the Cards standing in a tunnel (?) before they rush out to slap the hands of a couple fans before meeting at midfield to dance on the Cardinal logo while Froman is in the middle with his fist pumping in the air.  Ok, so you have the band thing somewhat right, but a tunnel?  EA sports took the effort to put the Unitas statue, the Cardinal head inflatables, and expansion in the game, but how can you have a tunnel entrance near fans on the OPEN END OF THE STADIUM.

Rating for our stadium entrance: D-  (and no flying Cardinal or no lame Vin Diesel look-alike trying to cheer)

The pre-game narrative talks about #20 HB of UK, Derrick Locke and how the weak UofL linebackers need to be prepared for the running game.  Don't worry, Brad Nessler... we'll take care of that later.  The weather is horrid, raining down like the game when Tony Stallings ran in for the OT winning touchdown back in 2000.

Now onto the actual game simulation...

Louisville wins the toss and chooses to receive, with Caldwell running back for a short gain.  On the first play from scrimmage, Froman is not behind center... but neither is Stein, Burke, or Brown... it's Vic Anderson.  Yes, Victor Anderson is in the WildcatCARD formation, though not gaining many yards as he scrambles to the right.  The next play reveals the starting QB, Adam Froman, who completes a screen pass to Vic for 39 yards.  Anderson once again proves his versatility and is in the WildCARD, but the result is the same as last time, as the offensive line cannot prevent Kentucky's defensive line from getting in the backfield for the tackle.  Even worse, Anderson goes down with a bruised elbow.  Having nightmares of the Bush injury, I was relieved to see he would return soon to the game.

Froman zipped the ball to Michaelee Harris (#6) for a 15 yard gain and with Anderson out, Darius Ashley (didn't covert to CB in the game) filled in for a couple small rushes to get to the 9 yard line before failing to convert on 4th & 2 (why in the world did we not kick it?).  Unfortunately, our Red Zone woes continue from last year, as UK starts at the 9 with Morgan Newton (#12) taking the snaps in UK's pro-style offense.  UK's rushing attack, however, is more effective, as Locke rushes for a few first downs before he goes down with a bruised sternum and gets carted off the field while Erin Andrews says he's out for the game.  With Locke out, the UofL defense holds the Wildcats near midfield, forcing them to punt on 4th & 11.  To end the 1st quarter, Chichester shows he hasn't improved much, as his WR option is a tackle for a loss, and a wide open first down is in and out of his hands.  Vic is back in and stopped short AGAIN on 4th & in, turning the ball over to UK at the Louisville 45 yard line.

(UK 0 - UL 0) Quick 1st Quarter summary.  While our offense is a little more creative, we're still getting shut out of the red zone, taking big chances on 4th down instead of trusting our 90 rating kicker.  However, the defense is hitting very hard and at least we're not losing.

Both defenses don't let up, as Froman is held to short passes, and our rushing game is stymied by the UK defensive line's pressure.  The Cardinals answer with their own defensive pressure, as Scruggs records not just one, but three sacks in the 2nd quarter alone and UK is just 1 for 5 on 3rd down conversions before the half.  Penalty flags for holding prevent big 30+ yard runs by Anderson and Froman, and with seconds remaining in the half, Chris Philpott clanks a 51 yard FG off the right upright.

(UK 0 - UL 0) Quick 1st Half Statistics:
Froman is 12/14, 155 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs
Vic Anderson is at -9 yards rushing on 5 attempts
Darius Ashley only has 7 yards on 3 attempts

Kentucky starts off the 3rd quarter after the kickoff, but is stopped on the 2nd series of the half before punting it away from about the UofL 40 yard line.  The defensive stalemate continues, with the small highlights being a Troy Pascley 27 yard catch to the 21 yard line from Froman, only for the QB to be sacked twice in a row by the UK defensive linemen.  On 4th and 25, Philpott winds back on a 53 yarder and nails it straight down the middle.

(UK 0 - UL 3) 4th Quarter:
This one is coming down to the wire, with Kentucky HB #30 Moncell Allen bulldozing his way all the way to the UK 6 yard line.  While a touchdown seems inevitable, Newton misses Allen on an option to the left, fumbling the football, with ROLB #33 M. Evans recovering the ball for the Cards.  The crowd erupts in madness, as Evans shortly celebrates with the rest of the Cardinal D.

Froman manages the clock well after quickly getting out of the 2 point danger zone by passing a 15 yard reception to Josh Chichester.  Vic keeps running the ball, but after another set of downs, he is stopped short and the Cards wisely punt it away on 4th and 1.  A fair catch is called by the UK punt returner at the 20 yard line with 1:56 remaining in the 4th.  While last year's team might have given up, expecting a drive down the field, Charlie Strong's new defense gets a couple sacks to help stop the advancing UK rushing attack.  Newton still manages to get his team up the field, setting up the tying 46 yard FG with 30 seconds remaining in the game.  At the snap, the Louisville Trinity kicker, Ryan Tydlacka, fails to tie the game.  Froman quickly takes a knee, and the fireworks explode after another nail-biter, but defense heavy game.

The Louisville Cardinals (1-0) remain undefeated, sending the Wildcats back to Lexington with a winless record.  If the Cards could convert in the red zone and put points on the board when it's 4th down, this game would not have been close.  I also wonder what the score would have been like if Locke did not go down during the first series of the game, however, I feel only a little bit of redemption for the Bush injury given by Woodyard.

#11 LE Greg Scruggs goes home with the Player of the Game award, recording 4 sacks, 6 TFLs.  This one put the 2009 Syracuse game to shame when it comes to offense, as Kentucky and Louisville were held to a total of 148 and 189 yards, respectively.  Louisville was 0 for 2 on 4th down conversions, and a measly 33% on 3rd down conversions.  Regardless, a win is a win, and the Governor's Cup is back in its proper home.  Oh yeah... and Charlie Strong picked up an immediate commitment from a 3-star OLB from Ohio.

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